My favorite photos of 2015
I’ve been incredibly lucky this year to travel to amazing places with amazing people. Here are some of my favorite photos I was able to capture and a few of the stories behind them. These are in sequential order throughout 2015.
Let me start with the only photo that actually captures the feeling of being in Maui in January. Being there with great people/athletes makes it even better.
Quite possibly my favorite place on the face of the Earth: Haleakala National Park. There is nothing quite like waking up at sea level, driving a few hours in the pitch blackness, winding through the mountains and watching the sunrise above the clouds at 10,000 feet.
So worth it. Favorite sent-to-me photo of the year by my talented buddy Mike Wolfe.
Whale watching with my mom in Lahaina, Maui. The best part: When they drop an underwater microphone next to the boat and you can hear how much whale noise is going on all around you.
Sunrise at Diamond Head, near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii. One of the best (most out-of-breath) sunrises of the year.
Before leaving Hawaii, I had one afternoon to take a solo drive around the entire North Shore of Oahu, stopping in a few places to hike. This shot was from the top of one of those hikes (the narrowest, steepest and sweatiest of the bunch).
Of course, my initial plan that day was to scale the Haiku Stairs (the Stairway to Heaven) on Oahu (seen on the center ridge in the photo above). That was before seeing all the rules that would need breaking in order to get to the trailhead, which is now under constant police surveillance. Next time. Or maybe not.
Hanging out with one of the few cowboys in La Jolla, California.
After Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, most fans were watching the trophy presentation on the 18th green. That’s unfortunate, because they missed the celebration of his son, Dash, who was sprinting through the greenside bunkers.
The best travel day of 2015 was a Monday in early February. I had to get from the Farmers Insurance Open to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. I decided to drive for obvious reasons, listening to all of Serial along the way. Jay totally did it.
When I finally arrived at Pebble Beach, I had only a few minutes to see the course. At any other venue, I would have waited until the next day, but this was my first trip to Pebble and it couldn’t wait. I decided to race the sun to try to get some photos and it turned out to be the right decision. On my entire walk, I saw only two other people. I essentially had the whole course to myself and got some of my favorite photos of the year.
Pebble Beach is great. So are its neighbors.
If you make it to the bottom of this self-indulgent list, you’ll notice a trend: I really like walking around courses late in the afternoon. It’s obviously when you get the best light, but it’s also usually eerily quiet. At Doral, I was pretty pumped to see that Fluff feels the same way.
This year was the first time I was able to go to The Masters with my dad, which is everything you’d think it would be. I love this shot, as he tries to wrap his head around the “Bubba Shot” at No. 10.
Ask anyone about their first trip to Augusta National and I promise the elevation changes will be one of the first two things they bring up (food prices or immaculate conditions likely being the other). It’s often tough to capture just how steep the hills are at Augusta, which is why I love this shot from behind the 10th green. The best fun fact about the course: The elevation change from the 10th tee to the low point in the fairway is the same height as the Statue of Liberty.
There are a lot of courses that the PGA TOUR visits that make me feel like running as far from my golf clubs as possible. The rough, the carries, the greens, etc. It’s enough to give a shitty golfer like myself a headache. TPC Harding Park is the opposite. I totally fell in love with it on my first visit. If you’re in San Francisco, take advantage.
You may remember a few stories about how Rory McIlroy planned to fly from the Match Play to Las Vegas and back for the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight this spring. Because he was still alive in the tournament (“I was too busy winning”), he wasn’t able to do so. Where did he end up watching the fight? In the back room of the media center. Some guys can’t catch a break.
This was my fourth year covering THE PLAYERS Championship, but this won’t get old for quite a few more.
In case you missed it, we had a pretty decent finish this year and a few people showed up to watch. Strong photobomb by Charlie Kane, who is looking very Lee Harvey Oswald.
After THE PLAYERS, Justine and I headed out for our much-delayed honeymoon, which started in Jackson, Wyoming, at Grand Tetons National Park.
The next stop was Yellowstone National Park, where we planned to camp in the van we rented. Admittedly, that plan was called into question when we arrived and it looked like this. It worked out fine.
Of our 4,000 photos of Yellowstone, this one is probably my favorite (Nature category).
However, this one is also my favorite (Bruce Springsteen Category).
After a brief stop in Portland, Oregon, we continued north to Olympic National Park for some hiking in the rainforest…
And on the rock beaches.
Our last honeymoon destination was Seattle. There we worked in a stop at the house where Kurt Cobain… you know. What makes it so eerie and peaceful and moving is that there is no signage or tourist attractions, just a makeshift fan memorial on a park bench outside his house.
Finally from the honeymoon, my favorite photo from Seattle. A much more uplifting one.
June 6, 2015: The night Vera, Chuck and Dave changed the musical landscape of Atlantic Beach, Florida.
In mid-June, I headed back to the West Coast and made my first trip to Bandon Dunes in Oregon. The entire time we were there (including at 5:15 a.m. when this photo was taken), it was 35–40 m.p.h. winds and it was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve ever had playing golf.
Justine and I spent our first anniversary on Sapelo Island, an almost eerily quiet island in Southern Georgia. There are two ferries in and out each day and you have to bring all your own groceries and supplies because there are no stores on the island. The couple we rented a room from let us borrow their truck and had some parting advice: “There are no cops on the island, so you can drink and drive or do pretty much do whatever you want. Just don’t get stuck in the mud. No one is coming by to help you.”
I don’t remember where this was, but it makes me laugh. Photo by Keyur Khamar, who appears to have been actually working at the time.
I thought I was being super clever with this one by getting a shot of all four majors in one photo. Whatever. I like it.
Part of the reason you can LOL whenever you hear someone say that no one cares about Tiger Woods anymore. All day, every day.
If you’re curious what that feels like, it’s something like this. Again, all day, every day.
Another first for 2015: St. Andrews. I’ll just tell you up front that there are going to be a lot of photos from here.
Up above Nos. 1 and 18 at The Old Course. The best.
Possibly my favorite golf photo of 2015. After wins at the first two majors of the year (and the previous week at the John Deere Classic), there couldn’t have been more hype following Jordan to The Open. That’s why I love this rare quiet moment during Tuesday’s practice round.
The atmosphere around the 18th green at The Old Course, where fans can watch from the street or the nearby buildings.
No story here. Just Padraig enjoying the ish out of every aspect of The Old Course.
The village of St. Andrews is unlike any place I’ve ever been.
But the kids in the Village of St. Andrews are like every group of kids ever.
The final major venue of the year: Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin. Or Kohler. Or Sheboygan. Or whatever dateline they finally settled on.
I was having a delightful walk around Whistling Straits until I had to outrun this storm back to the media center. At least it made for a good photo.
I was about to make my way back to the media center one night at Whistling Straits when I saw one more group coming down No. 17. I decided to wait and saw that it was Steve Stricker, with his wife Nikki caddying, playing the last practice round of the day and preparing for his last major in Wisconsin. It was cool.
No bunker confusion this time around at Whistling Straits.
Our team came up with the idea to do a series of scenic night photos during the FedExCup Playoffs. I had to practice during a trip home to Illinois and got this one of my brother, Tom, which is my favorite overall.
This was one of the end results, planes, stars and all.
That feeling when you just won over $11 million.
And that feeling when you try to explain to someone else how it feels.
A few All-American bros, meeting before The Presidents Cup in South Korea.
The Incheon Bridge, which spans a total length of 13 miles and essentially connects Incheon International Airport to Songdo, site of this year’s Presidents Cup. Korea was incredible. You can see many more photos here, if you’re so inclined.
The best caddie in Korea (I assume; it’s the only one I’ve ever had), Young-Hee at Whistling Rock. Twenty-seven holes and not one laugh at any of our shots.
Alright, one Woogie photo to close things out.